Lockheed Martin/KAI have released another T-50A video, showing two of the trainers in flight. The T-50A is their entry into the US Air Force’s T-X program.
An interesting note is that one of them does not have the Dorsal Aerial Refueling Tank (DART), which is the unusual dorsal “hump” seen on the other T-50As. The video has a great shot of the refueling door in operation. I must admit, I do prefer the cleaner lines without the DART, purely from a visual standpoint.
In the video, on screen text and narration point out some key features of the T-50A:
- Eliminate training gaps
- Lower cost
- More effective training
- Purpose built around 5th generation technology
On of the key things I noticed that was pointed to will be a critical factor in the Air Force’s choice: Low risk and on time. The T-50A is already a proven airframe that is in production, and it’s coming from Lockheed Martin. While Raytheon’s entry is proven, it’s a bit older, and arguably not as capable an airframe to be in use into 2030. And Raytheon is not known as an airframe manufacturer. (Although their partner, Leonardo, is.) And while Northrop Grumman/BAE and Boeing/Saab are very capable aircraft manufacturers, they’re coming into this with a clean sheet design- which means more time will be needed for testing and evaluation.
While there are many factors that will be considered, I still personally believe that this program is Lockheed Martin’s to lose.
Some screen grabs from the video: